Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 at 12:00 PM
Impressions tend to linger with fans (and the media) much longer than is reasonable. Once a narrative sticks to a professional or college sports team…THAT’S their narrative regardless of what’s actually happening on the football field, baseball field, or basketball court.
We’ve talked often in the past about how the Golden State Warriors don’t get enough credit for their defense. They play at a fast pace, which makes it hard to hold teams in the 70’s or 80’s on the scoreboard because there are too many possessions. But, when you account for pace, Golden State always has one of the best per-possession defenses in the NBA. The Warriors have the skill sets of great defenses in terms of blocking shots, forcing turnovers, and grabbing rebounds (while also hurrying opponents in to poor decisions).
That’s still true. The Warriors just held New Orleans to 94 points on 104 possessions, and 92 points on 107 possessions. Anything below a point per possession against a playoff caliber opponent is getting the job done. If those games had been played at slower paces, the quality of Golden State’s defense would have been more obvious.
The NEW development in this regard involves three-pointers on offense. While it’s true that they were ahead of the curve when it came to attacking from long range. The Warriors are not currently a team that needs to hit treys to win. In fact…
Golden State just shot 7 of 27 on treys in Tuesday night’s series clincher over New Orleans. That after shooting 11 of 33 (a generic 33%) in this past weekend’s 118-92 blowout…and 13 of 40 (just under 33%) in a Game Two victory. Before Steph Curry returned from injury, Golden State was just 5 of 27 on treys in the series clincher over San Antonio in the first round.
Here’s what you need to know about Golden State:
*They emphasize two-pointers more since Kevin Durant joined the team
*They push pace to get easy dunks or layups, not just open look treys
*Their shooters can make wide-open mid-range jumpers
*They play great defense, which makes it hard for opponents to keep up
Even though it hasn’t been true for YEARS, there are still people in the media who think Golden State is a three-point crazy team that has to outscore people because it can’t play defense. As you handicap the Western Finals against dangerous Houston, and probably the championship round against Cleveland or a less-dangerous postseason opponent…YOU must be in touch with reality!
*Golden State doesn’t need three-pointers to win
*When the treys ARE falling, nobody has a chance against them
*Golden State plays great defense
*Golden State often turns that great defense into easy transition points for their own offense
If you’re going to pick Houston…you need to have a pathway to victory that shows the Rockets getting the job done against the Golden State defense…and denying those easy transition points. During the regular season, it was easier to visualize. In the playoffs, Houston has had some ugly stretches of complacent play. And, James Harden looked so sluggish in the last two games vs. Utah that you have to worry about an injury or fatigue from the Rockets’ leader.
That’s why Golden State has been taking so much money on series and futures prices. If Harden isn’t 100%, then Golden State is going to advance unless it suffers a key injury. Houston’s not a “one-man team” by any means. But, Harden is so important that the team drops from “can beat Golden State” to “CAN’T beat Golden State if he isn’t at 100%.
JIM HURLEY and his full team of experts will be watching the Harden dynamic very closely. Our SCOUTS AND SOURCES on site will let us know how he’s preparing for the Western finals. Our STATHEADS will isolate the key secondary players who must step forward if Harden falters. Our COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS will run simulations with him at 100%, 90%, 80%, or worse to see how that will impact the line. And, of course, our WISE GUY CONNECTIONS in Las Vegas and offshore will let us know if the smart money reacts even more than it already has to Harden’s late series swoon.
What’s the right way to bet Golden State/Houston? Don’t make a move until you hear what JIM HURLEY has to say!
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